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Bikini Kill, lead by singer Kathleen Hanna started a revolution twenty years ago, the likes of which have not been repeated. Out of the dive bars of Olympia, Washington came a wave of radical feminist and queer artists who pioneered the riot grrrl culture in the form of music, zines and a way of being.
Quite frankly its a style and a thinking that continues in the likes of Beth Ditto's Gossip, JD Samson's MEN (JD worked with Hanna in Le Tigre) and detained Russian activists Pussy Riot. (Great piece in the New Yorker today.)
Today marks the 20 year anniversary of Bikini Kill's debut 12" EP, if you were only born just 20 years ago that means it was their first major long form musical release... on vinyl. In celebration of this milestone Bikini Kill is re-issuing their first two recordings from their website, as well as iTunes. The band is planning to issue the recordings on disk as well as vinyl (again) in a lead up to starting a new record label, Bikini Kill Records (as we mentioned earlier this year.)
You could say riot grrrl was the grunge of the disenfranchised feminist youth movement of the 90's. Typically very few women in rock even in the 90's ever received the attention their male counterparts did. Unlike grunge, riot grrrl never got Geffen attention, never received mainstream acceptance ad nauseam on MTV rotation. Not for lack of significance of course, after all it was Kathleen Hanna who penned the title to Kurt Cobain's break out hit, "smells like teen spirit."